Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Brooklyn Temple Eye Witness Account (Locanananda Dasa)

Who is in charge of My temple?

[PADA: Well what can we say? Ramabhadra and Romapada swami are apparently correct, the GBC are a bunch of bogus people, why should they cooperate with them? Good question. At the same time, if they want to be independent of the GBC, fine, but they have to come up with a better scheme then has been going on there -- up to now. For example kicking out devotees has not been a good plan there all along, it needs to be fixed. 

And they had better come up with a better system of worship plan, say for example, following our idea of exclusively establishing Srila Prabhupada as the acharya, which he theoretically already is there? I hope the temple board will consider that idea at least, should they decide to jettison the GBC altogether.

At the same time, it is amazing that BHAKTI CARU SWAMI is associated with Jayadvata swami, the person who wonders why in hell people are chanting Prabhupada's pranams? Isn't Jayadvaita a person who also said that gurus in ISKCON sometimes are exposed as engaged in illicit sex with men, women and possibly children as well? Why does Bhakti Caru associate himself with this agenda? And why should the Brooklyn temple be associated with this agenda? These are good questions. 

I also agree with several writers who said, why is there always a big fire brigade of GBC emergency personnel when there is a building crisis / money crisis, but many other problems do not seem to warrant much interest or hardly even honorable mention in their meetings? Are their main interests control of money, assets and buildings, and not much outside that circle? ys pd] 



After not having entered the temple since 1999 when I was banned by the local leadership committee from offering service to Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Govinda, I really had no idea what to expect as I entered the Mandir last night. All I had heard was that after the evening artik, Ramabhadra prabhu was going to announce that he would no longer be serving as Temple President at the Brooklyn temple in compliance with an order issued by the GBC. I was also told that three GBC members would be present to make sure everything went as planned. Even though I was still officially banned, I thought it would be safe enough for me to participate in the Sunday program for the first time in eighteen years.

As far back as I can recall, the evening artik for Radha Govinda had always been well attended with at least 200 devotees and guests present when the curtains would open. Last night there were not more than forty attendees in the temple room when the artik and kirtan began. By my count, there were only three other Prabhupada disciples who attended the ceremony, namely HH Jayadvaita Swami, Anandamoya and Caturvyuha prabhus.

As the kirtan began to wind down, Ramabhadra prabhu entered the temple room and took over from the lead singer. He chanted the Mahamantra for a while and when the kirtan ended, we all offered obeisances. He remained standing to lead the Nrsimha prayers. He played the gong and was accompanied by a devotee who played the alto saxophone in the style of a jazz musician. Other senior devotees were entering the temple room by that time, devotees like HH Bhakti Caru Swami, HH Romapada Swami, HH Candrashekar Swami, Hamsarupa prabhu and others. Many of the members of the Board of Directors of the Bharati Center, Inc. also came forward to hear the announcements.

Ramabhadra read from the Bhagavad-gita and spoke about his decades of service to Radha Govinda while sharing some of his realizations. He sounded a little choked up with emotion. Mean-while, HH Romapada Swami had positioned himself right in front of the Deities. Ramabhadra signaled to him not to turn his back to Their Lordships.

The ensuing events were like a firestorm of activity. The asana had been moved into position as though someone was going to give class. Then a devotee moved the harmonium into position which meant there might not be a class after all. His Holiness Bhakti Caru Swami walked up to speak with Ramabhadra to let him know it was time to announce the change in temple management to the devotees. Ramabhadra said instead that the evening program had ended with the closing of the curtains and the altar gates.

Seeing this confrontation begin to unfold, Romapada Swami said nothing and left the scene. I was suddenly startled by a phenomenon that I felt was foreboding. As the disagreement between Bhakti Caru Swami and Ramabhadra became a bit heated, all of the male devotees present in the temple room began to stand up and move towards these two prominent personalities as if they expected the confrontation to become physical. As many as fifty devotees seemed ready to intervene if things were to get out of hand. To defuse the situation, Bhakti Caru Swami turned away from Ramabhadra and said to those standing around him, "Let's chant Hare Krishna." Ramabhadra turned off the sound system, but his challengers were equipped with a simple sound system of their own, and the kirtan went on and on as we moved to the opposite end of the temple room to chant for Srila Prabhupada.

At one point, Bhakti Caru Maharaja addressed the devotees to explain why Ramabhadra was being replaced as Temple President, and a printed explanation of his removal and replacement was distributed. He thanked Ramabhadra for his dedicated service to Radha Govinda and announced that Hamsarupa prabhu would take the reins of temple management as the Acting ISKCON President of the Brooklyn temple.

When Bhakti Caru Swami was speaking, the lights in the temple room were being turned off. Then Ramabhadra prabhu reappeared to let us know that we must all vacate the premises and that the police had been called and had stationed themselves outside in front of the temple. There was no physical confrontation at any time, nor were there any subsequent expressions of anger or discontent. To the contrary, the congregation members cheered the announcement of the removal of Ramabhadra prabhu as temple president and then peacefully filed out of the temple room.

Various groups met with Hamsarupa prabhu to discuss the future of the Mandir and to have their questions answered. There was a great deal of uncertainty in the air. The Board of Directors seemed somewhat disappointed with the way things were unfolding. Ramabhadra was seen speaking with the police officers who responded to his call for law enforcement. He was accompanied by a freshly-minted attorney who must have been in his mid-twenties.

The stairs to the prasadam hall were blocked and no prasadam was served to any of the devotees or guests. Although he is now the Acting President and Administrator of the temple, Hamsarupa prabhu was told by the former president, now officially removed, that he did not have permission to spend the night in the temple building. He is currently having to reside at the Even Hotel which is situated next door to the Radha Govinda Mandir.

Your servant,
Locanananda dasa

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